Community volunteers plant the banks of Hydro Hill West Creek with native vegetation and log placements to provide shade and cover for Pacific salmon habitat near Ucluelet in the spring of 2019. The project is partly funded through the $143-million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which the province wants Ottawa to double. (Photo supplied by Rob Crenson)

Community volunteers plant the banks of Hydro Hill West Creek with native vegetation and log placements to provide shade and cover for Pacific salmon habitat near Ucluelet in the spring of 2019. The project is partly funded through the $143-million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which the province wants Ottawa to double. (Photo supplied by Rob Crenson)

B.C. government makes big commitments to fish and habitat conservation

Province’s first parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture given strong mandates

The B.C. NDP is sending strong signals fisheries management and habitat conservation will play a bigger role in government decisions.

Fishing groups and conservation advocates pushing for a new, dedicated provincial ministry to fisheries to tackle a myriad of issues, notably the worst salmon returns on record, expressed some disappointment when Premier John Horgan unveiled his new cabinet last week without the announcement of a new ministry, but not without praising the government for some positive steps forward.

Chief among them is the newly named ministry of agriculture, food and fisheries (formally just agriculture), a symbolic but important action that comes with the creation of a parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture, Fin Donnelly. The former federal Member of Parliament has a track record for introducing bills and forming non-partisan alliances aimed at protecting ocean health.

READ MORE: Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

“He’s a very capable person for the new role in B.C.,” Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society said. “The important thing is the ministry be given the latitude and resources they need to do their job. Wild salmon management in this province has been hampered for a long time because of the siloing between ministries. The creation of a new ministry probably wouldn’t solve that, but a parliamentary secretary role could be great, as long as Donnelly makes a point of breaking through.”

That is especially crucial for fulfilling the mandate of working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on new mandates to step up protection of fish habitat through a new biodiversity strategy and the creation of a a Watershed Security Strategy.

Donnelly also has a mandate to support the new Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resources, Nathan Cullen, to develop a new provincial coastal strategy that better protects marine habitat while growing coastal economies.

Lastly, the ministry has also been asked to maintain its work with the federal government to develop new strategies to revitalize B.C.’s wild salmon populations, but also push to double the five-year, $143-million Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, split 30 per cent and 70 per cent by the provincial and federal governments respectively.

READ MORE: You want me to eat what? A look at some of B.C.’s most exotic seafoods



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Fish

Just Posted

The new Malahat Skywalk is expected to be completed by this summer. (Submitted graphic)
Malahat Skywalk expected to be complete by this summer

$15-million project will see 650-metre elevated wooden pathway constructed

Sidney Pier was one of two sites in Sidney as the Netflix series Maid shot in Sidney in late 2020. The show starring Margaret Qualley was one of 38 productions shooting in Greater Victoria. (Bob Orchard/Submitted)
Head of Greater Victoria film commission warns of lost economic opportunity

Kathleen Gilbert said without full funding, region will not be able to attract productions

A senior official with Victoria International Airport says the airport is still researching COVID-19 testing regimes but predicts testing and screening will remain part of the aviation industry even after vaccines have rolled out. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria International Airport researching COVID-19 testing options

Senior official predicts ‘screening and testing will be around long after the vaccination rollout’

Rethinking shopping for a more resilient future. Black Press file photo.
Rethinking shopping for a more resilient future

The last year was a wake up call. The environmental crisis, systemic… Continue reading

Ucluelet local Geoff Johnson snapped this photo of a Risso’s dolphin that washed up near Chesterman Beach in Tofino on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Geoff Johnson photo)
Washed up Risso’s dolphin offers glimpse into “whole other world” near Tofino

“It’s like a UFO crash landed and you can come look at it”

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Drisht Preet (DP) Singh was excited to be opening the first Canco Supermarket in Saltair. (Photo by Emily Weeks)
Canco’s first supermarket opens in Saltair

Reasonable prices being matched with exceptional customer service

From left to right: Geena Haiyupis, Deborah Potter and Moira Barney stand beside the canoe. It will be painted by ADSS students in the new year. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Alberni high school students paddling forward together

Canoe artwork will hang above the school’s breakfast room

Cowichan Bay tennis player Grace Haugen takes part in an exhibition at the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club in 2019, which also included Canadian legends Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor. Haugen has committed to further her career at the University of Montana starting next fall. (Citizen file)
Vancouver Island tennis player prepares for next step in her journey

Cowichan Bay’s Grace Haugen commits to University of Montana

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Most Read